Flower Garden

Flower garden banks

Map showing the location of all 14 sites protected by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
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Situated 70 to 115 miles off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary includes underwater communities that rise from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico atop underwater mountains called salt domes.

Map of the Gulf of Mexico surrounded by the Gulf states, Mexico, and Cuba. The sanctuary location is marked by three white dots in the northwestern part of the Gulf.
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Atlas map of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary showing contours of the sea floor.
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The sanctuary actually protects three separate areas: East Flower Garden Bank, West Flower Garden Bank, and Stetson Bank. The reef caps at East and West Flower Garden Banks are about 13 miles apart, while Stetson Bank lies about 30 miles to the northwest of West Flower Garden Bank. The miles of open ocean between banks range in depth from 200 to 500 feet (61-152 meters). Each bank has its own set of boundaries.

Click map for larger image.
Click map for larger image.
Click map for larger image.

Management of the sanctuary is accomplished through a combination of education, science, resource protection and regulatory programs.


The Flower Garden Banks were discovered by snapper and grouper fishermen in the early 1900s. They named the banks after the brightly colored sponges, plants, and other marine life they could see on the colorful reefs below their boats.

Deep coral habitat around the banks.

Continued interest in the biological diversity and breathtaking beauty of the reefs at East and West Flower Garden Banks led to their designation as a sanctuary under the National Marine Sanctuary Act (NMSA) (160kb pdf) in 1992. The algal-sponge communities of Stetson Bank were added to the sanctuary in 1996.

Understanding the complexities of the sanctuary’s local ecosystems requires learning about all of the components in its natural setting. This includes the underlying geology, a variety of habitats, the larger context of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and its watersheds, as well as the specific plants and animals found within the sanctuary.



Source: flowergarden.noaa.gov